The First Two Pages: “Chill” by Ashley-Ruth M. Bernier

In April 2015, B.K. Stevens debuted the blog series “The First Two Pages,” hosting craft essays by short story writers and novelists analyzing the openings of their own work. The series continued until just after her death in August 2017, and the full archive of those essays can be found at Bonnie’s website. In November 2017, the blog series relocated to my website, and the archive of this second stage of the series can be found here.

Happy Thanksgiving Week! As I count all the many things I’m grateful for, being part of a great writing community often (always!) rises toward the top—and so it is with this week’s guest at the First Two Pages: Ashley-Ruth M. Bernier. We’ve been corresponding for several years now and we finally met at Malice Domestic last year—a real joy of a conversation—and over all that time, I’ve been so excited to watch her career continue to rise, step by step, award mention by award mention, and (hey, hey, hey!) in recent news, Ashley-Ruth’s story “Ripen” appears in the 2023 Best American Mystery and Suspense anthology. Hooray! You can find out more about her work at her website here.

Ashley-Ruth’s story “Chill”—the subject of her essay below—was published just this month in the anthology Malice, Matrimony, & Murder: 25 Wedding Cozy Mystery and Crime Fiction Stories, edited by Marla Bradeen. Last week, the First Two Pages welcomed another contributor to the anthology—Lynn Hesse on “Sabotage and a Murder Mystery”—and the collection also features stories by (in order of appearance) Joslyn Chase, Charlotte Morganti, P.M. Raymond, Paige Sleuth, Teresa Inge, Sally Milliken, Rebecca Olmstead, Nikki Knight, Shari Held, Barbara Howard, KD Sherrinford, Stephen D. Rogers, Elaine Togneri, Margaret S. Hamilton, Stella Oni, Robert Petyo, Pamela Kyel, Karen McCullough, Wil A. Emerson, Jack Bates, J. Aquino, Sharyn Kolberg, and Becky Clark. (Note that the link above goes to Marla’s website, with buy links in various directions.)

We’ve got one more essay ahead, by Karen McCullough, so stay tuned. And in the meantime, hope everyone has a great Thanksgiving!

Please use the arrows and controls at the bottom of the embedded PDF to navigate through the essay. You can also download the essay to read off-line.


2 thoughts on “The First Two Pages: “Chill” by Ashley-Ruth M. Bernier

  1. Lynn Hesse

    Recently, I read Christopher Swann’s thriller “Never Turn Back.” He uses similar techniques to introduce place, character, and suspense in the first 40 pages before you get to the main conflict and a dead body. Great job hooking the reader!

  2. Marla Bradeen

    Thank you so much for another awesome The First Two Pages installment, Art! And thank you for this breakdown of the beginning of your story, Ashley-Ruth. I think you did a wonderful job setting the stage for your mystery in these opening pages. Wishing you both a happy holiday week!

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